Yesterday I introduced this little series about Children’s Ministry as a career field. The two comments both pointed to key problems facing the world of Kidmin.
One: Joy Bowen remarked that there seems to be a shortage of quality Chidlren’s Pastors with great experience and are strong leaders.
Two: Jonathan Cliff pointed out that some of the best Children’s Pastor candidates are successful Jr. High Pastors.
Personally, I think both these comments point to the same problem. Kidmin has bad PR. There are many great Kidmin Pastors and Kidmin programs that are doing incredible and innovative things in ministry. However, that’s not the norm. When MOST people think of Children’s Ministry, they think of boring Sunday School Classes, silly puppets and flannelgraph. It’s a stigma and it’s permeated through most churches around the world. Line up any church staff and 9 times out of 10, I can point out the children’s ministry staff. Why? Every play that game, “which of these don’t belong?” That’s usually the case for Kidmin. Oh, I can almost always point out the student ministry staff, but that’s usually because of the facial hair and trendy clothing. They stick out in a cool way. Kidmin usually sticks out in the “you need a makeover and new wardrobe” kind of way.
So here’s the problem with this. The latest and greatest leaders emerging from the church are excited to lead and when they look at the scope of where they can lead, they don’t relate to the Children’s Ministry. It looks a little boring, weird and uncomfortable. It’s that bad stigma that hasn’t gone away. Kidmin has bad PR and the stigma has to change. Not only is the Children’s Ministry one of the most strategic ministries in the church, but it can be really fun and innovative. It just often lacks leadership that can take it there.
I do think that some of the best Children’s Pastors are successful Junior High Pastors who can bring their experience and relevancy to a different set of volunteers and leaders. They can bring a new and fresh perspective to working with kids. It’s not just screaming two-year olds and dirty diapers. It’s so much more!
So, if you’re thinking about ministry to kids as a career, I encourage you to see where this ministry needs to go. It needs strong leadership that will take it to new heights creatively to reach a Disney and Nickelodeon generation without totally cheesing off their parents. If you can bring that to the table, then welcome aboard!
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Great stuff! I’ve fought this for years, going on a decade. You can minister to kids, and do it in a relevant, engaging way.
.-= jonathan´s last blog ..Kidsplace Promotional Video =-.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post and I completely agree. It does scare off people who could possibly bring a lot to the kidmin table. That’s sad to say, but wonderful to look at and face head on.
We have to be willing to engage and meet them right where they are – sometimes right in the very middle of pop culture! To make it more than just “Jesus loves me, this I know”.
Let me know if you are ever looking for part time work, Kenny! I’ll come on board and shake it up with you guys!
.-= Karin´s last blog ..What I’ve learned about prayer =-.
You’re on target for sure. There’s one other element missing in many CM leaders: an in depth, working knowledge of Scripture. Without that it’s all fluff.
Hmmmm, I must have struck a chord. Come on, who else is with me.
Karen Apple, I agree with you; however, I’m not usually that impressed with the Kidmin leaders that seminaries produce. I think there is a middle ground of having Kidmin leaders get some Bible coursework via correspondence is a hugely valuable tool. But you’re right, a lot of kidmin pastors move up through the volunteer ranks which is good, as long as they get equipped in every way.
I agree with what you say and think that Kidmin faces a similar problem as a Senior Pastor position.
Senior Pastors need to be great communicators and great visionary leaders – more often than not those skills don’t go hand in hand. Many church are turning to a solution that divides this into two positions: a teacher and a leader (which comes with its own difficulties.)
A great Kidmin leader needs to be both a visionary and a great administrator. This is a rare combination. The mind set of a visionary does not usually lend itself to the organization that is needed for a great administrator.
I don’t think the solution is found in dividing these but in the kidmin leader recognizing where they are weak and making sure they listen to the voices of those around them – especially in those areas of weakness.
.-= Jesse´s last blog ..Learning in a Cohort =-.
I’m with you Kenny. But I’m also not the guy you would pick out as the cp. You would pick me out as the youth pastor. I’m also not using a flannelgraph (I’ve never seen one) or puppets. Although, I’ve done puppets before… we dressed one of them up like Napolean Dynomite.
I think a lot of churches have created this stigma for who “belongs” in Children’s Ministry, and many gifted leaders get overlooked because of it, furthering the cycle of bad PR. When I was looking for a job, I had a Bachelor’s in Communications and minor in Bible from a Christian College, experience in running different aspects of a program, etc, yet I wasn’t qualified enough. Most the churches I was finding required a Bachelor’s (and some places a Masters) specifically in either Christian Education or a teaching degree, at least 5 (and in some cases 10) years experience leading a program larger than what their church had but smaller than what I’d been involved in, and many many more requirements. They set such high expectation for what a person’s credentials were that they failed to look for good leaders.
While I agree to a point on what you said in the comments, Kenny, about not being impressed by what some seminaries produce as far as Children’s Ministry leaders go, I’ve also seen seminaries push talented ministers away from CM. My elementary pastor was told by several of his professors when graduating with his MDiv that he would be wasting his degree by going into CM.
Matt, those are the kind of puppets I’d watch… if I had to watch them. 🙂
Jill, good stuff. You’re right, a lot of churches have all these expectations of what an ideal candidate needs to have, yet they’re the wrong expectations. An education degree and CE degree are great degrees, but they’re degrees to help you as a teacher or educator of kids. In these large churches, Children’s Pastors need to be strong leaders of people who are great teachers and educators of kids. You’re absolutely right, churches and pastors need coaching on what they really need.
As far as seminary professors swaying great leaders from kidmin… they’re just stupid. 🙂 That was harsh. Actually, I would probably agree with them to a point. An MDiv is a huge degree, little of it would be used in a Chidlren’s Pastor role. Its great for a teaching/preaching pastor. Maybe these future church leaders need to be consulted on what to study before starting seminary.
This is a really great convo, Kenny.
I don’t think you’d pick me out in a line up, I only seem to dress goofy because I’m over 40 – you’d likely label me the executive pastor (unless there’s a suit requirement for that).
I’m chiming back in because of the seminary discussion. I’m finishing up at Bethel Seminary and they have a GREAT Children and Family Ministry program. A good balance of teaching and biblical study…but I do wish they had a stronger leadership aspect to it.
That said, I agree with Jill on staffing. Churches seem to have the wrong idea about what they should want in their Children’s Pastor. Many positions seem to be all about numbers and being able to entertain large numbers of children and far less concerned with equipping them and their families.
(And yes, I’d a agree MDiv is likely overkill though I’m not sure I would say you were wasting your degree if that is where God called you.)
.-= Jesse Smith´s last blog ..Learning in a Cohort =-.
I will add that my elementary pastor would eventually like to be a family pastor and oversee infants through college, or be involved in adult ed, or both. For right now, though, he likes being able to spend some time getting more pastoral experience under his belt before moving into those roles, so when he went for his MDiv, he did want to take it further. It was just sad to see how his professors were making him think that CM was beneath him.
Well, here I sit and am just waiting for a call to be a CM and no one wants me. I have over 25 years of experience AND a graduate from a Bible College with a BS in Christian Ed. I love kids and stay relevant even though my age would dictate other wise … I also have 2 children at home that keep me in the loop as to what is current and going on in the lives of kids today. So here I sit waiting for a call to be a great CM with a lot on my mind to share. So this is as frustrating to me as seeing a guy who uses this opportunity as a stepping stone (although there are several who do not and are in CM for the long haul) hired over me. So tell me how I can get hired with so much to offer … I’ll be rocking babies in my 90’s (God willing I am still here) … CHURCHES NEED TO STOP HIRING PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE DEGREES AND EXPERIENCE and maybe things might look up! There are A LOT of us volunteers who could do 1,000x better job than some people in the position, but no one wants to give us a chance because we haven’t worked in a mega church OR gotten paid for our work. You see a lot while on the sidelines … I’m just speakin’ from experience! (Sorry I am a little burnt by this whole thing. I am trying to move beyond it and on to something else God might have in store.)
Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Keep your trust in God high Janet. God has a plan for you and your talents.
I believe that the church just needs to come to a place that the value of children’s ministry come when we understand there is no Junior Holy Spirit. The same spirit working in adult, teens, junior higher’s is the same working in kids.
Good leadership, good bible base is key in kids ministry but so is the importance that a good curriculum does nothing for Kdmin when we don’t allow the Spirit to have his chance. We as Kid leaders constantly need to seek new revleation in how God can speak to our Kids and teach them.